HC Deb 16 May 1892 vol 4 cc967-8
MR. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)

I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if his attention has been drawn to the report in the Times of the 13th instant of a case at the Thames Police Court, where a man complained that his son, who was only fourteen and a half years of age, had enlisted into a Fusilier regiment at Aldershot, stating that he had written to the Adjutant of the regiment, protesting against his son being detained against his parents' will, but had received no reply; whether he is aware that the magistrate directed the police to inquire into the case, and can he state what the result of that inquiry has been; and what steps does he intend to take in the matter?


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the statement in the Times of Friday, that a recruit, aged fourteen, has been enlisted by an Infantry battalion at Aldershot; and, if so, what explanation he can give of the case?


Application has been made for the discharge of Private Defries, of the 1st Battalion Scottish Rifles, who is stated by his father to be only fourteen and a half years of age, but who, after performing seven weeks drill in the Militia, enlisted last January, giving his age as eighteen years two months. The medical officer recorded his age as physically equivalent to eighteen, he being five feet four and five-eighths of an inch high, with a chest measurement of thirty-three inches, and weight of one hundred and twenty-six pounds, which are above the minimum of the British or any foreign army. If his age can be substantiated he will be discharged, but up to the present time the father has failed to substantiate his statement by a birth certificate.


Will steps be taken to ascertain what the age of this boy is?


I do not think it is necessary for the War Office to take any steps. It being shown that the recruit was physically equivalent to eighteen, I think the War Office can do no more.